By: Craig Stevens
Photos by Craig Stevens and Alan Hart
SCHENLEY PLAZA ANTI-WAR RALLY. JANUARY, 2020.
KHALID RAHEEM, NEW AFRIKAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY.
EMILY DE FERRARI, BDS AT JAN 4, 2020 ANTI WAR RALLY
Just days after President Trump’s gang carried out the assassination of Iran’s leading military official, General Qassem Suleimani, 200 people rallied in Pittsburgh on January 4, 2020 calling for “No war with Iran, U.S troops out of Iraq!” as part of nationwide protests in over 90 cities and towns across US organized by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition, Code Pink and other anti-war, peace and justice organizations.
Local groups participating in the Pittsburgh rally included Pittsburgh ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Pittsburgh Anti-Imperialist League (PAIL), Allegheny County Green Party, United Electrical Union (UE), New Afrikan Independence Party, Veterans for Peace, Socialist Workers Party, the Raging Grannies and the Thomas Merton Center.
Organizing is already underway to rebuild the U.S. anti-war movement and forge alliances with progressive forces here in the U.S. and around the world, including the Global Day of Action against war with Iran held on January 25th. For information on continuing anti-war organizing in Pittsburgh, you can contact: the ANSWER Coalition: firstname.lastname@example.org or the Thomas Merton Center’s Anti-War Committee: email@example.com
Excerpts from statements made at the January 4th Rally:
“While the assassination of Iran’s top general is framed as a defensive measure by the US ruling class and its boot-licking mouthpiece corporate media, nothing can be further from the truth. The truth is this sinister attack is part of a deliberate and calculated act of war against Iran. The people of Iran or Iraq are not our enemies and as evidenced by today’s rallies all over the US, the people are not falling for the lies of the Trump administration and Pentagon and clearly saying no to another imperialist war of plunder for the benefit of the rich.” – Taylor Goel, Pittsburgh Coordinator of the Pittsburgh ANSWER Coalition
“How is it that US officials, the media, and the think tanks can be so morally deaf to Soleimani’s assassination? The reason is simple: they all fail to recognize Iran and Iraq’s sovereignty. They believe that the US has freedom of action in both countries since they both are or have been ‘illegitimate.’ That thinking is the basis for the reigning doctrine of regime change, wholly embraced since the demise of the Soviet Union and its place as a counterforce.” – Greg Godels, Pittsburgh Anti-Imperialist League
“Like most empires, the US has lied about its justification for every foreign war it has been involved in. I clearly remember the lies to get us into Vietnam. We were able to end that war because there was a powerful anti-war movement at the time. And, the Vietnamese National Liberation Front defeated the US militarily. Today is a different world: the capitalists have gotten better at conducting illegal and immoral wars, choosing weak en-emies. And, the anti-war movement of today is very weak, to say the least. Ending current US wars will require a strong and sustainable anti-war movement. It is up to each of us to end these wars and save what is left of our democracy.” – David Hughes, Allegheny County Green Party.
“One of the major criticisms of Trump’s action was about whether it was constitutional. It’s not about the constitution; it’s about morality! It’s about what is right. We have to ask ourselves, what would you do if you were in that seat of power? Would you take the high-road or would you take the low road. Would you continue to push forward with this aggressive agenda of trying to control all peoples around the world or would you focus on a peace and prosperity agenda? Where we could share the world’s natural resources, where we could share the world’s wealth, where we could really work hard to eliminate poverty, racism, white supremacy, all forms of discrimination…. That’s what we need to say to all those people running for office; to the people who carry out these aggressive policies around the world in our name. We have to stand firmly with the people of Iran, we have to say, ‘Down with Imperialism, no more war!’” – Khalid Raheem, New Afrikan Independence Party
On a final but important note, several times during the rally, a group of rally supporters confronted a small group of people holding anti-Semitic signs blaming wealthy Jews for conflicts in the Middle East, calling them out as Nazis and tearing up their signs and forcing them across the street away from the rally.
Print newspapers reported that the anti-semitic group included Gregory Conte of Gaithersburg, Maryland, who was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the director of operations for the National Policy Institute,a white-supremacist think tank founded by Richard Spencer. Spencer had informed contacts around the U.S. of the locations of the January 4th anti-war rallies. This incident dramatized our need to call out people using racist, anti-Semitic and other oppressive messages and make clear they are not a part of the movement for peace and justice for all.
Craig Stevens is a member of the New People Collective.
(NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 1. February, 2020. All rights reserved)